Princeton launches online Soviet children’s library

Princeton launches online Soviet children’s library
Excerpt of What is good and what is bad? by Vladimir Mayakovsky

12 September 2016

US university Princeton has compiled an online library of Soviet-era books for children and youth.

The collection of 159 imprints is available for browsing on the University’s digital library, and includes titles by Vladimir Mayakovsky, perhaps best known for his revolutionary poetry; beloved children’s poet Agniya Barto; author of young adult literature Lev Kassil; and poet Alexander Vvedensky, produced between 1918 and 1938. The works range from verse and prose, to painting, drawing and photomontage. Of particular interest to those interested in the Russian avant-garde are children’s titles utilising the kind of creative typography characteristic of early 20th century Russian avant-garde writers and artists, such as Ilya Zdanevich and Velimir Khlebnikov.

A range of experimental formats feature in the library, including the fold-out book by Five-year-plan (1930, Aleksey Laptev) and Book-Movie (1931, F. Kobrinets), a book that includes instructions for its own deconstruction and reassembly as a film and constructing a makeshift projector.

The University, located in the US state of New Jersey, invites readers to explore the ways in which Soviet children’s literature was used to instil the ideological values of a new society. The physical collection of imprints forms part of the Cotsen Children’s Library, a collection of literature for younger readers based at Princeton.

The collection can be viewed here.